Texas Golf Club
At 320 kilometres from Brisbane, Texas is the first sand green golf course as you head west along the border. The town has about 900 people and a golf club with a strong history and dedicated members. The club formed in 1928 and had 6 holes at the racetrack before they made a 9-hole course in Copmanhurst Paddock on Texas Station. In 1935 it was decided, “in view of the distance from the town and the decidedly flat nature of the course, a new and more convenient site be found.” *
Land on the eastern edge of town next to the hospital was leased and the golf course was laid out under the instruction of Roy Keen a professional golfer from nearby Warwick. Texas now has a 12 hole course that many bush towns would be proud of.
Driving up to the clubhouse, it sits a little humbly on top a hill that overlooks the entire course that surrounds it. The members have done an excellent job, presenting a well-maintained layout. There’s a good covering of grass all over the course which is impressive considering it’s already the dry season and they missed out on a lot of the big rains that fell a few months ago in southern Queensland further to the west. It’s fairly rocky country that makes for the odd unpredictable bounce but the local preferred lie rule means you always have somewhere decent enough to hit off. The tee boxes are watered and in good knick providing somewhere solid to let it rip on each hole.
On the greens, they’re using white sand (not mixed with anything). Traditionally, most clubs have mixed their sand with sump oil and or diesel. This gives it a better consistency for putting on and speeds up the greens. Oiling also prevents your green blowing away in strong winds. There are now some environmental concerns with this practice and some sand green courses are dealing with or at least faced with alternatives.
I found the white sand to be really slow. This is my first time playing on “raw” sand (and admittedly my first time on a sandgreen course in 3 years). They had been recently done, and oiled greens too take time before they settle in and speed up. It’ll be interesting to see if these do after a month or so. Anyway, you have to give the ball a fair belt when putting. Of course, this may be my excuse for such a dismal performance on the greens. I didn’t make anything.
You can tell some thought has gone into the design of this course. I don’t know how many bush courses have had professional golfers overseeing the lay out, but Mr. Keen has made a great use of the space at Texas. All the holes play up or down hill making you think twice about club selection and giving you some blind shots. There’s a good mix of short and long par 3’s as well as doglegs left and right.
The 1st hole is a menacing 205m par 3 (less so for the ladies as a par 4). Out of Bounds over the back and trees down the right side means a lay up left and short is the safest option. At least it’s the option I should have taken.
The first of the par 5’s is the 4th and it’s the only one downhill ( although on the back 9 the 393m par 4 6th becomes the 454m par 5 16th. The bigger hitters fly it over the trees on the left in a more direct line at the hole while everyone else has to thread it through the gap making it a true dogleg left. It’s downhill all the way to the hole and a bit rocky in front of the green so the right club is important. A feature of the hole is the unique bunkering potentially catching out bigger hitters. Trenches dug to control water flow across the fairway have been filled with sand so now two snake-like bunkers creep from each side diagonally across the fairway.
For me, if Texas had a signature hole it would be the 142m 7th. You can see the green through the silky oak trees that stand on the other side of the gully at the lowest spot on the course. It’s only just past them, but you have to hit it over them to get on and there’s trouble long. The green is also below you so you have to go down a club or two and have to hit a confident, high shot. There’s no place to bail out.
Once on the green, trees surround you. This south-eastern corner of Teas GC is a little lusher with better soil. It’s almost like an oasis giving you a short respite from the rocky high country.
The finishing holes are pretty brutal and a good challenge. The par 3 8th is tricky enough at 169m firing under a massive overhanging gum tree. When you play it as the 17th it’s a 209m monster where you have to hit a draw around said tree or something hard and flat to get under it.
The finishing hole is an up hill par 5 that flattens out 100m short of the green. With longer grass catching anything that goes left, both your drive and second shot need to be very good to have any chance at a birdie.
As well as the challenge, the course offers some great views with farmland and ranges providing a backdrop to take your mind off how horribly you’re playing. It’s also a pleasant surprise to have the golf course nestled on the edge of town overlooking the school and the houses that line the road to Stanthorpe. Often you find the golf course in a small town a few kilometres out of town.
The handful of people running Texas Golf Club is a credit to keeping sport alive in the bush. Despite declining numbers and uncertain rainfall they turn out each week and play on a course of which they can be proud.
For photos of Texas Golf Club go the photo gallery.
*An undated newspaper article written by former club secretary Jim Linder (now deceased) was given to me by the Texas Historical Association. (Thank you Sarah and Collette).